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Summary: Finny, a small shark, disguised as a goldfish, is stuck in a goldfish bowl at the fair. She doesn’t want to just wait to be won by a child tossing a ball in a bowl. She has bigger plans. This is a picture book.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read
Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 7; read yourself: 7 to 9
Interest Level: 4 to 8
Age of Child: Read with 3-year-old child.
Young Reader Reaction: My child enjoyed the story and wanted to hear it again and again. He laughed at the pictures of shark getting in and out of a goldfish disguise. He also liked the character’s name, Finny.
Adult Reader Reaction: The illustrations are interesting: you will really like or really dislike them. The book jacket boasts "you are okay no matter what size you are," but the story teaches that bigger is better. Finny will be much larger than her goldfish friends, and she spend her time trying to get away from the fair to find bigger and better things. She isn’t satisfied with her peer’s aspirations, yet she doesn't explain why this unknown fate is undesirable.
Pros: Interesting, graphic illustrations done on a computer. They are brightly colored and the characters have bold expressions.
Cons: This book is best on the first read. The more we read it, the more the lack of focus in the writing became apparent. It is also written in verse, which seems to hinder the telling of the story.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow it. With young readers you can let the pictures take the lead; for older readers there's an opportunity to talk about individuality.
Educational Themes: The story lends itself to talking about being one's self (I.e., following the crowd is not always the best plan); reinforces that it is okay to think for yourself; and offers a chance to talk about NOT judging others for their choices.